Every unit/chapter, I give my students an oral assessment. I do it in a way that puts them on the spot but is super easy if they know the vocabulary/content from that chapter.
The one hard part, however, is finding the time to do these
assessments. My largest class is 31 students. By the time I take them
out of class to get the assessment done, I've wasted two days. Not only
that, but I have to find something to occupy the rest of the students
for two days in order to do it. It also takes me out of the classroom
so they do not have me as a resource at that time.
Last year, a colleague of mine mentioned a program called Conversations.
This program was created by the University of Michigan and is
completely free to use. I didn't do anything with it last year. I just
never found the time.
However, at conferences last month, I started playing around with it between sessions. Holy cow was I amazed.
With this program, I can record myself asking questions in the target
language. Then, when I am done setting it up, I can use a code to embed
it into a blog post (I just put it into a blog post on my teacher
website). When the students go to that blog post, the program pops up.
All they have to do is type their name and it takes them to the
questions. They click a button and voila! A video of me pops up,
asking them the first question. When the question is over, it
automatically starts recording their response. When they are done
responding, they click "stop recording" and it takes them to the next
question. Once they respond to the last question, a green check-mark
pops up and they can submit it.
To view all of them, you can go back to the conversations website and
there is a column with all of the kids' names. You can view JUST the
responses or you can view them as you asking the question and then them
responding. I just make a list of my questions so I can read along as
they respond (saves A LOT of time).
I implemented this for the last round of oral evals and I was shocked at
how smoothly it went. I checked out 5 laptops from the library and set
them up with headphones out in the hallway. The students took turns
going out and doing the evaluation during the test.
They really liked it, too, because they didn't have a person sitting
right in front of them. The only disadvantage is you cannot repeat or
reword a question for a student who didn't understand. I always ask the
question twice in my questions. If they still don't get it, I tell
them to come in and get me so I can reword the question.
You don't even have to do this as a testing tool. You could even assign
it for homework some evening or as something in class. It is a
wonderful time-saving tool. I plan to use it again.